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Clearwater man gets 25 years for dealing drugs involved in overdoses, dumping body

Sherman Michael Puckett, 34, left a woman’s body, naked and wrapped in plastic, at the base of the Howard Frankland Bridge, court documents show.
 
Sherman Michael Puckett was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges related to dealing drugs and dumping a dead woman's body at the base of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
Sherman Michael Puckett was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges related to dealing drugs and dumping a dead woman's body at the base of the Howard Frankland Bridge. [ St. Petersburg Police Department ]
Published Aug. 25, 2022|Updated Aug. 25, 2022

A Clearwater man was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for being part of an organization that distributed more than 255 grams of fentanyl, more than 37 grams of fentanyl analogues, more than 28 grams of cocaine and more than 17 grams of methamphetamine, among other drugs, according to federal authorities.

As part of a plea deal signed in March, Sherman Michael Puckett, 34, pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing controlled substances as well as an obstruction of justice charge in connection to dumping a woman’s dead body, naked and wrapped in plastic, at the base of the Howard Frankland Bridge, court documents show.

The drug deals occurred between July 23, 2018, and September 17, 2019, according to the documents. Puckett also mixed heroin and fentanyl together, calling it his “recipe” and distributing it to customers under the guise of it being just heroin, the news release said.

This “recipe” led to many overdoses, according to the DOJ, although it’s unclear how many.

Puckett saw the overdoses as an “acceptable cost of his business model,” the release said. Most survived, and those customers would return to Puckett, addicted to the drugs on which they had overdosed.

“If they (his customers) can survive the high, I will always have a paycheck,” Puckett told a witness, according to the release.

Court documents show one woman who got drugs from Puckett overdosed and died in Puckett’s room at the Godfrey Hotel in Tampa on Dec. 8, 2018. Lab tests confirmed Puckett’s DNA was found on her buttocks.

After her death, Puckett took off the woman’s clothes, wrapped her body in plastic and transported it to the St. Petersburg side of the bridge, where he left the body, the DOJ said. A local fisherman found the body the following morning.

The St. Petersburg Police Department identified the woman as Sheila Capone. She was 26.

Puckett sold drugs out of a series of hotel rooms and short-stay rentals, according to the DOJ. The rooms also were used to store the drugs.

Officials say he only stayed in each place for a few days or weeks to avoid coming to the attention of any law enforcement agencies.